Fear and Loathing in Legoland

It's not even open yet ... just imagine the hype futures.

by Robert T. Nanninga


ike most everybody else in Southern California, the local media has been spoon-feeding me a daily dose of Legomania. Not a day goes by without there being some news regarding how Lego Land is going to save San Diego's north county from becoming a blighted backwater. If I see one more photo of Miniland, I think I am going to go postal. Recently, while carpooling north on I-5, I had the dubious pleasure of viewing the new and improved Canon Drive on- and off-ramps. Please note that I did not say Legoland Drive; you can file this in the small victories department. Kudos to the city of Carlsbad for not completely selling out.

While viewing the new landscaping, a unmistakable paradox was as obvious as a 50 ft. tower of Danish building blocks. There, less than a half mile from the edge of the North America, trees native to Australia were planted to spruce up the approach to the site of a Danish company.

My, my, my, aren't we continental. Now, I realize the majority of people in North County believe that we need as many tourist traps as possible in our little slice of paradise. What I don't understand is how that equates to adding more eucalyptus trees to an area that is losing its native habitat at an alarming rate.

It is not like Carlsbad doesn't know better. Just look at the job they did widening the La Costa Blvd. overpass. Currently, if you look at that landscaping, you will see healthy young sycamore trees and California golden poppies in bloom. To plant eucalyptus trees, when it is common knowledge that they do nothing to help restore the environmental balance that city planners have so cavalierly destroyed, is completely irresponsible.

While the subject of irresponsibility is on the table, what percentage of native plants has been incorporated in the landscaping? Of the photos I have seen to date, the landscaping shown is quite lush. Considering that we live in region that is predominantly coastal sage scrub, it seems Southern California was not as perfect as the folks from Denmark had hoped. I guess a favorable business environment is all any of us really need.

The question before us now is, when will this complete disregard for native plants and animals stop? Cities all over North County pay so called "professionals" considerable salaries to wreak havoc on local systems. Why is this? I'm sure Carlsbad city planners declared that Legoland would have no significant impact on the environment. Obviously, municipal mercenaries had their back to Aqua Hedionda Lagoon at the time.

To show that this is not an isolated case, environmental consultants have also declared that the Manchester Resort in Oceanside would also have no impact on the coastal environment. Do you think this might have something to do with not biting the hand that feeds you? How much work do you think an environmental consultant would get if word got out that he was more concerned with environmental health than corporate profitability? Turning a blind eye makes sense when you have car payments to make.

So now that we have an amusement park, perhaps local officials will seek Federal loans to help fund the native plant museum. Just imagine: after your out-of-town guests are done looking at the miniature plastic skyline, you can take them to see the stuffed gnatcatcher gathering dust at City Hall.

  Robert T. Nanninga is a Leucadia resident currently working on a degree in Environmental Communications at CSUSM. You can reach Robert by sending email to observationshome.com or by writing to the San Diego Earth Times.